R WE WHO R WE is my ongoing collaboration with composer and electronic musician Philip White.
We put our first set together for Kathleen Supove's Music With a View Festival in 2011 and have been working together ever since.
Our first album R WE WHO R WE came out in 2013 on New Focus Recordings. Our second album "I Love You" was released in November 2017.
On our debut album, we deconstructed pop songs: Madonna’s “Material Girl”, Eminem’s “Hi My Name Is” and of course Ke$ha’s “WE R WHO WE R” (from which we cribbed our name). The album paid uneasy tribute to the way these songs offered a sense of self for the listener, while maintaining a constant push undermining each song's exploitative potential.
With that, R WE WHO R WE became a project about how we sculpt and perform our identities.
”I Love You” shifts these ideas about identity onto a fractured set of cultural narratives about relationships, love and masculinity; honing in on the inevitable collisions. In nine original songs, the duo works through disturbed desire (“Song and Dance,” “Kristin”), adolescent projections (“I Just Want U II”, “Womb”), disintegrating relationships (“Silence”, “Valentine’s”, “Cutaway”) and violence (“Two Trees”, “Firestarter”).
Our first album was released on New Focus Recordings in 2013.
"R WE WHO R WE mixes the free theft/collage style of Girl Talk with the raw noise of Merzbow. Philip White's mixer feedback, controlled through a homemade rig of circuits and lo-fi electronics, conjures the sound-world of legendary experimental musician David Tudor, but becomes something entirely new when fused with the production aesthetics of pop pioneer Dr. Luke. Ted Hearne's voice - inflamed, athletic and powerfully stark, with the operatic drama of a latter-day Jeff Buckley, the experimentalism of Mike Patton and party chic of Ke$ha herself - does furious battle with his own auto-tune. A tribute and commentary to both classic and ephemeral artists of the pop landscape, R WE WHO R WE uses pop music like graffiti uses public space, exploiting the tension between theft and tribute, much as collage artist John Oswald did 30 years ago with his seminal and mischievious album Plunderphonic."
From Doyle Armbrust's five star review of our first album in Time Out Chicago:
"Listening to Ted Hearne and Philip White’s R We Who R We is a bit like attempting to force the beaters of an electric hand mixer through one’s nostrils and into the brain, then flipping the power on…and this is an unequivocally good thing. Using Top 40 hits like Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R” and Madonna’s “Material Girl” as a point of departure, vocal hellion Hearne and electronic conjurer White hook listeners with the familiar while hurtling through often confrontational and exceptionally potent sonic deconstructions. Other than the lyric content, almost nothing remains of the source material, offering not pop-tune covers but compositional reinventions.
Hearne, who honed his classical chops at the Manhattan and Yale Schools of Music, drags his vocal cords through their paces. “Hi Is My Name” revs up Eminem’s ubiquitous flow to breakneck speed, tearing through syllables and forcing the listener to play catch-up. On “Original Self,” an original track, it’s as if the Chicago native is attempting to argue with Auto-Tune, railing against its magnetism as he wails atop a chorus of dental drills. Hearne’s inventive reimaginings of the lyrics draw you in, while White’s self-described “non-linear feedback system” similarly cloaks the deliberately provocative sound world of noise music in the shiny bluster of pop production. The result is something eminently, if weirdly, danceable and utterly gripping."